Systemic Racism Is a Public Health Crisis

Published on: August 17, 2020. Updated on: October 20, 2020.

About the Data Insights

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the link between systemic racism and health in many communities. This infographic clarifies the relationship between long-standing social and economic inequities and health disparities affecting Black Americans, over the life course and in relation to COVID-19. Black Americans are dying at 2.5 times the rate of White Americans from the virus. Here we review intentional and actionable strategies that can be enacted at the state, local and health care system levels to bring about lasting change.

Citations & Additional Resources
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Systemic Racism Definition
: Racial Equity Tools, Racism

COVID-19 Impact Data:

Population Share: The United States Census Bureau

National Death Data: The COVID Tracking Project, The COVID Racial Data Tracker

  • NOTE: Current as of August 17, 2020

Risk Factors for Black Communities:

Over-Representation in Frontline and Essential Worker Roles: Associated Press

Unequal Health Insurance Access: Changes in Health Coverage by Race and Ethnicity since the ACA, 2010-2018, Kaiser Family Foundation

Hypersegregated Housing: COVID-19 in context: Racism, Segregation, and Racial Inequities in Philadelphia, Drexel University, Urban Health Collaborative

Food Insecurity: Feeding America, Hunger hits African American communities harder

Housing Insecurity: National Alliance to End Homelessness

Wealth: Brookings, Examining the Black-white wealth gap

Education: Adapted from USA Today article, “12 charts show how racial disparities persist across wealth, health, education and beyond”; original data from National Center for Education Statistics

Mass Incarceration: The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons, The Sentencing Project

Stress and Allostatic Load Representation:

Health Disparities:

Health disparities (Hypertension, Diabetes, Obesity): Adapted from CDC analysis and infographic on risk factors

Maternal Mortality: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reproductive Health, Pregnancy-related Mortality

Actionable Ways to Address Disparities:

Strategies for Lasting Change:

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